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  • Writer's pictureMcKinley Creekside Cabins

Denali National Park Hiking Guide: Packing, Trail Maps, and Wildlife Safety Information

Updated: Feb 6

When preparing for a day hike in Denali National Park, it's important to be well-prepared, as the park's wilderness can be challenging and unpredictable. This Denali National Park Hiking Guide: Packing checklist, Trail Maps, and Wildlife Safety information should help you prepare.


Man hiking in Denali National Park Alaska
Hiking in Denali National Park, Alaska

Essential items to pack for a hike:

  1. Map and Compass/GPS: Familiarize yourself with the park's trails and carry a map and compass or a GPS device. Cell phone reception can be unreliable in the park.

  2. Water: Carry an adequate supply of water for the duration of your hike. A good rule of thumb is to carry at least 2 liters of water per person.

  3. Food: Pack high-energy snacks and a meal for your hike. Energy bars, trail mix, and sandwiches are good options. High-calorie foods are essential, especially if you're hiking a strenuous trail. There is NO food service inside the park so bring your own or order here: PARK LUNCH

  4. Clothing: Layer your clothing to be prepared for a range of weather conditions, as Denali's weather can be unpredictable. Include a moisture-wicking base layer, insulating layer, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don't forget a hat and gloves.

  5. Rain Gear: Even on a sunny day, carry a lightweight, packable rain jacket or poncho. Denali is known for sudden rain showers.

  6. Sturdy Footwear: Wear comfortable, waterproof, and supportive hiking boots or shoes with good traction.

  7. Backpack: Use a comfortable daypack to carry your gear. Make sure it's large enough to hold all your essentials. Make sure to pack a couple bags to pack out any trash you may have including toilet paper, #leaveNOtrace, yeah, don't forget some TP and zip lock bags.

  8. Sun Protection: Bring sunglasses, sunscreen (with high SPF), and lip balm with SPF to protect yourself from the sun, which can be intense in Alaska and at high elevations.

  9. Insect Repellent: Obvious reasons :-)

  10. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, blister treatment, and any personal medications you may need.

  11. Bear Spray and Bear Bells: If you're hiking in bear country, carry bear spray and know how to use it and Bear Bells. Be familiar with bear safety guidelines. Bear bells for sale at McKinley Creekside Cabins. Watch: Bear Spray Safety / Wildlife Safety and Behavior

  12. Multi-tool/Knife: A small multi-tool or pocket knife is always handy.

  13. Headlamp or Flashlight 8/1-9/15: Even if you plan to return before dark, it's a good idea to carry a headlamp or flashlight in case your hike takes longer than expected.

  14. Whistle: A whistle can be used to signal for help in case of an emergency.

  15. Camera and Binoculars: No binoculars? We have loaners at the front desk.

  16. Personal ID and Contact Information: Carry identification, and let someone know your hiking plans, including your expected return time and route.

  17. Cash: In case you need to pay for park fees, transportation, or any unexpected expenses.

  18. Permit or Pass: Ensure you have any necessary permits or passes required for your hike in the park.

  19. Before heading out, stop in at the Bus Depot or Visitor center to get the weather forecast, trail conditions, and any park alerts or closures. It's essential to be prepared and take safety seriously when exploring the wilderness of Denali National Park.


Always follow Leave No Trace principles: Pack out everything that you bring in,

to protect the park's natural beauty and wildlife.


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